From East to West

| 12/12/2012 11:00:00 AM

Peter Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, is an Emmy Award-winning composer, NY Times best-selling author and noted philanthropist. Currently, he is releasing socially-conscious music and touring his "Concert & Conversation" series in support of his book Life Is What You Make It.
be yourself  

I’ve just returned from China. And now that I have a small outlet for my thoughts, I might as well write them down and see if they make sense.

As many readers know, I’ve worked on musical projects that include many expressions of my deep feelings regarding American Indian—as well as any indigenous—culture. 

We all came from a tribe at some point in our past. But there are few people in the world that survive in the manner that we were once all accustomed to. As you might expect, I believe that our previous way of life had a lot of valuable components to it. But please don’t accuse me of romanticizing the past. I just wish we could have retained some of the important parts, specifically the parts around us being just a part of a larger world, a world that we were meant to live in relationship to—not in control of.

On my first trip to China, my “aha” moment was realizing that the country is, indeed, quite full of the same feeling that I had when I got to know people in “Indian Country.” I recognized a soul in China that I didn’t expect. And then it became obvious: the Chinese people are nearly all indigenous; the land they live on was inhabited by their ancestors for millennia.

What I was seeing was that same way of being that Columbus saw when he first landed. I quoted him in an earlier blog. But the upshot is that he met people with their hearts open. Ready and willing to listen, learn, share, have fun, believe in things, and connect.

1/10/2013 8:47:00 PM

Holy cow. I never even thought about the bars closing. There always seems to be so many of them. But, what you say may be true and the photo essay is great.

shujuan li
12/27/2012 3:37:40 PM

See the new blog "The Skin We Are In. But I can't post my comment under it. So I put here. Fear is people’s No. 1 weak point. Actually when we were born, we didn’t know what fear is. As a Chinese saying goes, a new-born calf fears no tigers. But as we grow up, we begin to fear: we fear we can’t make a lot of money to live a better life, we fear if we don’t work hard we will lose jobs, we fear to die as we grow older… But only one thing can conquer fear--love. I agree with Peter. When my daughter was suffering a serious illness, I would like the illness come to me, let me suffer instead. I would rather die for my beloved ones and feel no fears. I think everyone can do like this. I believe everyone has love. With love there is nothing in the world to be afraid of.

12/26/2012 1:40:41 PM

My analogies may be lame :-) but you certainly end up in the same place I do... that the hearts of the people and the cultural DNA hold the true power. I don't put the ideas I have in any of my writing in terms of decades or even centuries - I'm trying to get to as universal a place for mankind as possible... and I believe that takes looking from as far back as possible. Which gets you to the DNA aspect - and collective memory. What I'm hopeful for - and I know is possible - is that as countries develop, they can shed skin (see my latest post) and create something better than what's come before. That idea certainly has historical facts on its side... but it also always seems an imperfect walk towards "progress". Sub-Saharan African has mostly bypassed copper wire for cell phone technology for instance. This may give many people a leap in information that could possibly shift the direction in many aspects of life - agriculture as an example. This is a gross generalization.. but my point is that people can learn and grow from other's examples and improvements in technology (or systems of gov't or education etc...) but adapt them to their own DNA. Call me a hopeless idealist... but I will do everything I can to urge other cultures to stay clear of our addiction to stuff in hopes that a new way of being in community can once again flourish... Capitalism... Socialism... Communism... can make way for Humanism... the US has no great hold on fairness and justice - just ask an Indian.

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